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Mattel PowerGlove FAQ

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Info file: powerglove-faq,    -*-Text-*-
produced by `texinfo-format-buffer'
from file `faq-0.2.texinfo'
using `texinfmt.el' version 2.30 of 18 May 1993.

Original material copyright (C) 1993 J. Eric Townsend Compilation
copyright (C) 1993 J. Eric Townsend

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Top, Next: Forward, Prev: (dir), Up: (dir)

* Menu:

* Forward::                     
* Introduction::                
* Resources::                   
* Hardware Interfaces::         
* Software ::                   
* Basic Setup Instructions::    
* Related homebrew stuff::      
* Supplies/Mail Order::         
* Wierd Info - Triva - References::  
* Legal Issues::                
* Other Gloves::                

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Forward, Next: Introduction, Prev: Top, Up: Top


Mattel PowerGlove FAQ version 0.2, [date].

Written by [email protected] (j. eric townsend).

*Significant* help and input from:

Randy Shedden ([email protected]) Linda Jacobson
([email protected])

Lots of people on the WELL, sci.virtual-worlds, and of course, the

The FAQ is still in a very rough state.  Please send
changes/adds/deletes to [email protected]

All sorts of product names are probably trademark by the appropriate

Comments in the form of [DO YOU UNDERSTAND THIS? -JET] are notes to
myself, let me know if you have something to replace the note with.

A current version of this file can be obtained from ~jet/public on the
WELL, netcom, or the NAS internal network.  It will also be posted to
USENET's sci.virtual-worlds, the WELL's vr conference and various
mailing lists at sporadic intervals.

If you are reading this via a World Wide Web (WWW) client, click <A
HREF="">here</A> to go to
the WWW server being built to serve parallel, visualization and VR
users.  (If this doesn't work very well, don't be terribly surprised.
It's a low-priority project for me right now.)

This is probably the last version of the PowerGlove-specific FAQ.  It
will probably be consumed by a HomeBrew VR FAQ, if things go well.


This document does not constitute an endorsement of any of the products,
services or groups listed.

It's not my fault if you get hurt, suffer loses, or get into trouble
because of anything you read in this document.

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Introduction, Next: Resources, Prev: Forward, Up: Top

  This document assumes you have a basic familiarity with the terms and
concepts related to virtual reality and also with USENET and the
Internet with its related tools (telnet, ftp, mail).

This document is written in TeXinfo, which means it is equally easy to
read in source form or print out a nicely formatted copy.  But wait,
there's more!  You could convince your site admin to install the
powerglove faq into the emacs info database, and read it with emacs info
or xinfo! If you don't want/can't info or print this document, you'll be
able to read through with little, if any, difficulty. (For more
information on texinfo, poke around in GNU emacs or ftp the texinfo
package from /pub/gnu on

* Menu:

* What is a PowerGlove?::       
* Why use a PowerGlove instead of <foo>glove::  
* What are the big problems?::  
* What are the technical problems?::  

File: powerglove-faq, Node: What is a PowerGlove?, Next: Why use a PowerGlove instead of <foo>glove, Prev: Introduction, Up: Introduction

What is a PowerGlove?

In 1989 Mattel (yes, the toy company) introduced the PowerGlove, a
handtracking device based on a glove.  The PowerGlove was intended to
work with the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in place of a regular
controller.  The PowerGlove can track motion of the glove in
three-space, finger position, and has a set of buttons/switches on the
top of the wrist.

It has two modes "hires" and "lores".  In "hires" mode, the PG reports
the position in threespace, the roll, and configuration of fingers along
with the SELECT, START, A, B, CENTER and ARROW CLUSTER switches (which
are a part of the NES standard controller).  In lores mode the glove
reports position on the hand on the x and y axis and the buttons (thus
emulating a NES controller completely and allowing one to use the glove
with non-glove-specific games).

The lores mode also allows the users to select one of fourteen (?)
built-in programs that associate different sets of motions with the NES
controller outputs of up/down/left/right/select/start/A/B.  Each program
also has its own translation of finger movements to control inputs.

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Why use a PowerGlove instead of <foo>glove, Next: What are the big problems?, Prev: What is a PowerGlove?, Up: Introduction

Why use a PowerGlove instead of <foo>glove

PowerGloves originally cost around $100, if you're lucky these days you
can find them usually under $30 at a Toys R' Us on the remaindered rack.
Most of the gloves on the shelves have been bought up, some by
speculators.  (I keep hearing rumors of people with 40-50 gloves in a
closet who trickle them out a few at a time.)  If you don't know what a
Dataglove costs, you probably can't afford it.

File: powerglove-faq, Node: What are the big problems?, Next: What are the technical problems?, Prev: Why use a PowerGlove instead of <foo>glove, Up: Introduction

What are the big problems?

Several problems face you if you want to use a PowerGlove as a VR input
device.  These aren't technical problems (although there are those as
well), mind you, but real-world problems.

There is no official hardware or software support from Mattel, and the
gloves are no longer being produced. Of course, there is no official
hardware or software support from any third party companies either.

Contact Nintendo for information if you like, but the person who answers
the phone probably won't even know what a PowerGlove is.

On the up side, everything you will use was probably written or designed
by a fellow hacker.

File: powerglove-faq, Node: What are the technical problems?, Prev: What are the big problems?, Up: Introduction

What are the technical problems?

The ultrasonic sensing is done with inexpensive microphones so it is
difficult to place the sensing array directly on a computer monitor and
get a clean signal.  A somewhat common fix is to hang the sensing
"array" on a wall that has a low ultrasonic reflection rate.  People are
using anything from towels to ultrasonic anechoic foam to dampen the

This detailed list of problems is from Randy Shedden:

  1. In order register your hand position, you must point your knuckles
     at the reciever array.  It gets tiring holding your hand up for
     extended periods.

  2. The only information about hand orientation that get is rotation.
     (This is also called roll.)  In flight technology, if you raise one
     wing while you lower the other, this is called rolling the plane.
     Ascribing this behaviour to your hand, if you raise your little
     finger while lowering your thumb, this would also be called roll.
     If a plane moves it's nose to the left while the tail moves to the
     right, the plane is said to yaw.  If you do the same thing with
     your hand, the ultrasonic transmitters would point away from the
     sensor array and you would lose all orientation information.  If a
     plane lowers it's nose while the tail is raised, the plane is said
     to pitch.  If you do the same thing with your hand, again you lose
     all orientation information.  So, while the VPL DataGlove can track
     yawl, pitch and roll.  The PG can only track roll (commonly called

  3. The information about how your hand is configured is not very
     accurate.  As mentioned above, the material that covers the thumb
     and fingers has different electrical resistance depending on how
     much it is flexed.  So, when you have a finger fully extended, the
     material is not flexed at all.  When you have a finger fully
     clenched, the material is flexed to it's functional limits.  This
     is expressed in terms of a degree of flexure (bentness) for each
     digit.  This degree is one of 4 integer values.

     0 means the digit is fully extended.

     1 means the digit is a little bent

     2 means the digit is more bent than straight and

     3 means the digit is fully bent.

  4. For each digit, this resolution isn't very good.  Aside from that,
     it is hard to flex the material to reproduce the desire degree of
     flexature.  For instance, it is not a trivial matter to do a
     gesture that requires that the ring finger be at state 1 (a little
     bent).  This digital (no pun intended) value is also hard to
     maintain once you have it, because moving the neighboring digits
     can have an effect on the flexure of the digit in question.  Try
     bending your middle finger without also bending your ring finger.
     Additionally, Only the thumb and THREE of your fingers are tracked
     at all.  For some reason, the PG doesn't keep track of your pinky.
     In conparison, the VPL DataGlove gives much better resolution on
     ALL of your digits and material (a small fiber optic cable) is much
     easier to use than the bulky PG material.

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Resources, Next: Hardware Interfaces, Prev: Introduction, Up: Top


If you are interested in the various mailing lists, you'll want to grab
the canonical list of mailing lists from news.answers on USENET.  (Or,
failing that, from the author [email protected]  Don't bother her
unless you need to, she's very busy and too nice to bother with trivial

* Menu:

* The PowerGlove mailing list::  
* sci.virtual-worlds (sci.v-r)::  
* VRASP::                       
* Amiga and VR mailing list::   
* trackers mailing list::       
* WTK list::                    
* rend386 mailing list::        
* ftp sites ::                  
* Misc Resources::              
* Other Power Glove people / Previous Works::  

File: powerglove-faq, Node: The PowerGlove mailing list, Next: sci.virtual-worlds (sci.v-r), Prev: Resources, Up: Resources

The PowerGlove mailing list

The PowerGlove mailing list is run by [email protected] (J. Eric
Townsend) from the machine  It operates on an
automated listserv-type package, which means it can do lots of neat
things, but users need to pay close attention to the instructions.

To subscribe, send a message to [email protected] with a body
of "subscribe glove-list your_full_name".  Send this message from the
account you want to recieve the list.  You cannot subscribe another
person, or a different email address.  (If you would like to subscribe a
local reflector, please email [email protected])

The glove-list software supports file transfer by email, the list
manager ([email protected]) makes a serious attempt to have current
versions of PowerGlove related software and mailing list archives
available via the mail server.

File: powerglove-faq, Node: sci.virtual-worlds (sci.v-r), Next: VRASP, Prev: The PowerGlove mailing list, Up: Resources

sci.virtual-worlds (sci.v-r)

(From Bob Jacobson, past moderator of sci.v-r and the current moderating

sci.virtual-worlds and its sibling, sci.virtual-worlds.apps, are
newsgroups on the USENET covering developments in the field of virtual
worlds technology and applications, respectively.  These newsgroups, now
three years old, serve an international community of over 15,000 regular
participants with news, technology highlights and developments,
scientific and philosophical issues, and discussions of how virtual
worlds (also known as "virtual reality") are or will be used in various
commercial and social settings.

Newsgroup submissions should be sent to: <[email protected]>
Questions or comments should be sent to:
<[email protected]>

The sci.virtual-worlds Moderating Group:

MICHAEL ALMQUIST <[email protected]> - Michael Almquist
(aka. "squish") has been hanging out at the HITLab for over two years
now after obtaining a BS in Computer Science.

TONI EMERSON <[email protected]> - Toni is Coordinator of the
HITL Knowledge Base Project and Manager of the sci.virtual-worlds
Moderating Group.

DANIEL PIRONE <[email protected]> - Daniel Pirone has a BS in
Computer & Information Science.  He is a HITL staff member, part of the
Software Group.

JERRY PROTHERO <[email protected]> - Jerry is a Research
Assistant at the HITLab, currently finishing his master's in Industrial

AARON KALEVA PULKKA <[email protected]> - Aaron earned his B.S. in Computer
Engineering at the University of Washington, where he is currently
pursuing a Ph.D. in Computer Science & Engineering.

MARK TAKACS <[email protected]> - Mark has just finished his
master's thesis (Prolix: A text based participant system for VR) and
spends more time than he can spare exploring the internet and
programming Muds.

A mailing list is kept by Prof. Greg Newby at the University of Illinois
for those who cannot directly access s.v-w and s.v-w.a via the USENET.
Requests to be added to this list should be sent to:

    [email protected]

This is not an automatic operation; please be patient while Greg makes
the necessary additions.

The newsgroups are also featured on CompuServe, in the Arts Section, in
abbreviated form; excerpts also appear on GEnie, BIX, and the WELL (in
its vr conference).  Welcome!

The FAQ for s.v-w is at,
./public/virtual-worlds/Meta-FAQ.  The FAQ is posted monthly on the

File: powerglove-faq, Node: VRASP, Next: Amiga and VR mailing list, Prev: sci.virtual-worlds (sci.v-r), Up: Resources


VRASP is an organization that you probably want to belong to.  They are
putting out quality information at a reasonable cost.  Plus, it's tax
deductible.  (e-flyer courtesy of Mark Pflaging.)


The Virtual Reality Alliance of Students and Professionals is a support
network and educational forum dedicated to increasing public knowledge
of virtual reality applications, and to furthering the development of VR
technology as a whole.  Our membership is global and diverse, and
includes both lay- and professional programmers, researchers, inventors,
graphic artists, writers, promoters, filmmakers and philosophers.

We are presently functioning as a resource bank and referral network for
those seeking information on VR and the VR community, distributing
research and development findings as well as product and promotional
information.  We hold our own educationally-oriented meetings and events
at which VRASP members get to socialize "ftf", sharing their eclectic
knowledge and cooperatively pursuing a future where Virtual Reality
*is* a Reality.

We are also the publishers of "PIX-Elation"; a bi-monthly 'zine
featuring product surveys, event and convention reviews, lecture
transcriptions, scanned and rendered graphics, an industry networking
page and a calendar of upcoming industry events, as well as interviews
with leading researchers, groundbreaking artists, and proponents of
"homebrew" VR.  "PIX" is written primarily by VRASP members, all of whom
are invited to submit their articles, graphics, and findings.

MEMBERSHIP Individual member dues are $30 per year inside the US.  All
other countries: $40.  This includes bimonthly issues of PIX-Elation,
regular admission to VRASP Chats and discounts at VRASP lectures and
workshops.  For special Business and Institutional Member Rates, please
contact us.

Volunteerism is strongly encouraged and will be rewarded by a special
"Contributing Member" designation.  This status will entitle you to
special privileges, such as networking opportunities and the ability to
hold office in the organization, as well as public acknowledgment in the
newsletter and at conferences.


Karin August President, VRASP Publisher, PIX-Elation PO Box 4139
Highland Park, NJ 08904-4139 Voice: (908) 463-VRVR Fax: (908) 580-0092
Internet: [email protected]

Tod Foley Director, VRASP Senior Editor, PIX-Elation 8055 Wakefield Ave
Panorama City, CA 91402 Voice: (818) 786-6318 Fax/Modem: call to arrange

Internet: [email protected]
          [email protected]
          [email protected]

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Amiga and VR mailing list, Next: trackers mailing list, Prev: VRASP, Up: Resources

Amiga and VR mailing list

Ethan Dicks has set up a discussion list for topics related to using the
Amiga for VR.  To subscribe, send mail to
[email protected]

File: powerglove-faq, Node: trackers mailing list, Next: WTK list, Prev: Amiga and VR mailing list, Up: Resources

trackers mailing list

The trackers list usually covers 3d-related issues.  Requests go to
[email protected]  [1NOV93 I recieved email that this
list is dead.  Anyone confirm/deny? -eric]

File: powerglove-faq, Node: WTK list, Next: rend386 mailing list, Prev: trackers mailing list, Up: Resources

WTK list

From Terry Fong:

The WorldToolKit Users' Group is intended to provide a contact point for
users of Sense8 Corp.'s "WorldToolKit" to discuss and exchange
information on a variety of topics. Among these are:

   * 3D objects: modeling, importing/exporting to WTK NFF, sharing
   * sensor drivers: development, reducing lag & latency
   * managing user interaction
   * efficient development of virtual environments with WTK
   * distribution and sharing of virtual environments
   * improving simulation performance (e.g., frame rate, quality)
   * platform specific issues (e.g., GL queues on SGI machines)
   * advocating WTK improvements/changes to Sense8

The group has a mailing list which forwards email messages:
[email protected] Anyone interested in joining the sig-wtk
list should send email to: [email protected]

Terry Fong NASA Ames Research Center

File: powerglove-faq, Node: rend386 mailing list, Next: ftp sites, Prev: WTK list, Up: Resources

REND386 mailing list

REND386 mailing list. rend386 is a great rendering package for the 386,
PG can be used as an input device (*Note REND386::).

Contact: [email protected]

File: powerglove-faq, Node: ftp sites, Next: Misc Resources, Prev: rend386 mailing list, Up: Resources

ftp sites

A good FTP site for general VR information is  This site is
maintained by the folks who do sci.v-r on usenet.

[email protected] has offered the use of as a
PowerGlove related ftp site.  Check: /pub/vr for a variety of glove-list
relted stuff.

Someone at Apple has started a VR section at
This site contains Jon Blossom's Gossamer along with other goodies for
the Apple Mac.

Please note that is no longer the PowerGlove ftp

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Misc Resources, Next: Other Power Glove people / Previous Works, Prev: ftp sites, Up: Resources

PCVR Magazine

From the PCVR electronic flyer:

PCVR, a new Virtual Reality publication, introduces high-tech Virtual
Reality equipment, theories, and software to the layperson by
simplifying procedures, languages, and materials.  The equipment
necessary for a Virtual Reality system usually costs over $25,000 and is
primarily available to universities and businesses.  PCVR changes this
situation by bringing the technology into the home through tutorials and
do-it-yourself projects.  Through step-by-step articles, a complete
Virtual Reality system can be built for under $3000 including the
personal computer necessary to execute the system.

For $26 a year, subscribers receive 6 issues which contain; editorials,
thought-provoking columns, hardware/software topics, tutorials, and
do-it-yourself projects. We also include a disk as a convenience to the
reader, which contains all the software discussed in the articles.

The hardware projects have covered connecting the Sega 3D glasses and
Mattel Powerglove to an IBM personal computer, building a head mounted
display, and constructing a head tracker device.  These do-it-yourself
projects use off-the-shelf components which enables a non-technical
person access to Virtual Reality equipment in their own home.

The tutorials explain the major technical areas of Virtual Reality
without the jargon usually associated with industry journals.

PCVR intends to bring Virtual Reality out of science laboratories and
into the general computer community.

Subscription Information (6 Issues): $26.00 US/Canada, $38.00 Overseas.
Back Issues- All Are Available 1-9: $4.50 US/Canada, $6.50 Overseas
Payment: Check or Money Order drawn on US bank in US dollars. VISA,
Mastercard and American Express

Issue Themes:
   * Issue 1 - Theme:  PowerGlove Interface -                        28 Pages
   * Issue 2 - Theme:  PowerGlove Software -                         35 Pages
   * Issue 3 - Theme:  Head Mounted Display and Sega 3D Glasses -    36 Pages
   * Issue 4 - Theme:  Rend386 Rendering Software -                  45 Pages
   * Issue 5 - Theme:  Head Tracking -                               36 Pages
   * Issue 6 - Theme:  3D Sound -                                    36 Pages
   * Issue 7 - Theme:  VR Motion -                                   36 Pages
   * Issue 8 - Theme:  PCVR Renderer -                               40 Pages
   * Issue 9 - Theme:  Build Your Own Head Mounted Display for $450  40 Pages
   * Issue 10- Theme:  Voice Recognition                             40 Pages
   * Issue 11- Theme:  VR Connectivity                               52 Pages
   * Issue 12- Theme:  Input Devices                                 64 Pages
   * Issue 13- Theme:  Head Tracking  (27Dec1993)                    64 Pages

PCVR can be contacted at: PCVR; PO Box 475; Stoughton, WI 53589;
Phone/FAX: (608) 877 - 0909; EMAIL: [email protected]

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Other Power Glove people / Previous Works, Prev: Misc Resources, Up: Resources

Other Power Glove people / Previous Works

This is sort of a history, I'm not sure of the exact order, but the
facts are sort of correct.

First, there's the history of the PowerGlove itself.  Rich Gold, in

   * Howard Eglowstein (sp?) had an article in the July 1990 issue of
     Byte showing how to hook the PG to an IBM PC's parallel port and
     decoding the lores mode. ("Reach out and touch your data", BYTE Vol
     15, No 7 (July 1990) pp283-290)

   * Mike Cargal and Paul King built a cable and wrote a driver to
     interface the glove in lores to the Amiga via the mouseport, this
     combo was called "PowerMouse".  Work was done in 1990 and published
     in the 1991 issue of Amazing Computing's Tech magazine.  The code
     is in Modula-2 and has shareware status.

   * Greg Newby posted his results of decoding hires mode in

   * Manfred Krauss figured out the timing of hires mode and wrote some
     code to run hires on an Atari ST.

   * Dave Stampe added some de-glitching and hysteresis code.

   * Several people are using it as a MIDI input device.  PCVR has
     released a racketball game based on rend386 that uses the PG and
     the Sega 3D glasses.

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Hardware Interfaces, Next: Software, Prev: Resources, Up: Top

Hardware Interfaces

* Menu:

* AGE built a serial interface device and sold them to a few::  
* Nugget/Goldbrick::            
* Menelli box::                 
* PGSI::                        

File: powerglove-faq, Node: AGE built a serial interface device and sold them to a few, Next: Nugget/Goldbrick, Prev: Hardware Interfaces, Up: Hardware Interfaces

AGE box

AGE built a serial interface device and sold them to a few universities.
They aren't generally available and have an almost mythical status.

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Nugget/Goldbrick, Next: Menelli box, Prev: AGE built a serial interface device and sold them to a few, Up: Hardware Interfaces

Gold Brick

Many users on the glove-list have used this box.  Charlie S.Lindahl
([email protected]) comments:

I have done a lot of hacking around with the Transfinite Systems box on
the Mac. Two points:

  1. The PG sample code which comes with the box is not great
     (stylistically) and is written in MPW C. After much struggling I
     finally managed to extract the position sensing code into a
     standalone THINK C program.

  2. As it currently stands, the TRANSFINITE stuff only works
     consistently with system 6 of the MacOS. It DOES work with system
     7, if you turn off 32-bit addressing and virtual memory. I've
     coaxed the assembly source code for the GOLDBRICK driver from
     Transfinite to try to port to sys7, but haven't had the time to
     hack it out yet.

This information is taken from a flyer from Transfinite:

                GOLDBRICK: The Cyperspace Interface (tm)

Summary: The Gold Brick (tm) is a device that connects the Apple Destop
Buss (tm) to most controllers compatible with and to the Nintendo
Entertainment System (tm).  It allows you input from Broderbund UFORCE
(tm), floor pad input from the Nintendo Power Pad(tm), tilt sensing with
the Enteractive (tm) Roll&Rocker(tm), and POSITION SENSING WITH THE

With Macintosh support software (system 6.0.5 or later), Gold Brick can
translate controller input into 2 or 3 dimensional motion and/or
keystores as specified by the user.

The controller and game deck interfaces are generally compatible with
those of the Motorola SPI, National Semiconductor Microwire (R), and
Signetics I2C type.

According to the manufacturer the Gold Brick is already being used in
the following systems:
  - controlling intractive multi-media
  - playing virtual instruments
  - giving audio feedback to speech-impaired infants
  - allowing viewers to walk through computer-deisgn structures
  - transforming inputs on a power pad to English sentences and music

There are a number of models available depending on your needs and
budget.  They are summarized as follows:


                             MODEL 1                         MODEL 2

                         | Release 1 (1) | Release 2     | Release 1    |
     Part Number, Retail | GBC-1, $195   | GBC-2, $245   | GBN-1, $169  |
     Controllers support |               |               |              |
      * Standard         | Yes           | Yes           | Yes          |
      * Power Pad        | Yes           | Yes           | Yes          |
      * "Unknown" type   | Yes           | Yes           | Yes          |
      * UFORCE           | Yes           | Yes           | Yes          |
      * POWER GLOVE      | No            | YES           | YES          |
     Status Lights       | Three         | Three         | None         |
     ADB Through port (2)| Yes           | Yes           | No           |
     Game Deck Cable     | Yes           | Yes           | No           |
     Technical Manual (3)| Yes           | Yes           | No           |
     Upgradeable (4)     | Yes           | Yes           | No           |

     (1) No longer available
     (2) Permits additional apple desktop bus devices to be attatched
     (3) Limited tech. doc. was included in GBC-1. A software tech. manual
         (REF-1), available separately, is included in GBC-2
     (4) Uses a socketed single chip microprocessor that can be replaced with
         later versions.

ORDERING INFORMATION: Transfinite Systems Company, Inc.; PO BOX N, MIT
Branch Post Office; Cambridge, MA 02139, USA; Tel: (617) 969-9570;
Applelink: D2002

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Menelli box, Next: PGSI, Prev: Nugget/Goldbrick, Up: Hardware Interfaces

Menelli box

Ron Menelli built a 68HC11-based box that duplicates the AGE box.  The
schematics and code available via ftp at cogsci.  They are available
from the glove-list archive server as pg-hc11.zoo and pg-hc11.tar.Z.

Several problems exist with building this box: 68HC11's aren't easy to
come buy unless you're ordering a few thousand and two of the parts for
the Menelli box will *not* be found a Radio Shack or Fry's, one will
have to go mail order to some place such as DigiKey.

File: powerglove-faq, Node: PGSI, Prev: Menelli box, Up: Hardware Interfaces


The PGSI (PowerGlove Serial Interface) is a project from UIUC and
promises to be the bestest cheapest way to use the PowerGlove with
nearly any computer.  The PGSI FAQ is maintained by Ben Gross
([email protected]) and can be ftp'd from ( in
/ACM/PGSI as PGSI.FAQ.  Like most FAQs, it is irregularly posted to
various newsgroups and mailing lists.

The first batch of orders were shipped in mid 1993.  There is talk of
another production run, the PGSI FAQ should be checked for the latest

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Software, Next: Basic Setup Instructions, Prev: Hardware Interfaces, Up: Top


Many of the packages/programs listed here are available via the listserv


* Menu:

* Amiga Software::              
* Mac Software::                
* PC Software::                 
* Unix::                        

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Amiga Software, Next: Mac Software, Prev: Software, Up: Software

Amiga Software

The Amiga has the worst software selection at this time.  There are only
a handful of basic packages for getting glove data into the Amiga via
the parallel port. Both packages work only on the A500/A2000 units.  The
author strongly advises anyone interested in doing glove-work on the
Amiga to go to a serial-port based device such as the PGSI.

'amigahires.lzh' contains code to drive the glove in hires mode and grab
packets from the parallel port.

'gt.lzh' contains code to grab data from a glove attached to a parallel
port and dumps it out a port.  Whiles this is The Right Way to do things
on an Amiga, the code only runs correctly on 68000 based machines.

'glovetest.lha' (also 'gt.lzh') is a useful diagnostic tool that
includes the above gt.

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Mac Software, Next: PC Software, Prev: Amiga Software, Up: Software

Mac Software

Jon Blossom's 'gossamer' package is available from

The "Max" package for the Mac has support for the Gold Brick.  It is a
development environment, so you will have to write code that translates
glove movements into the actions you want from Max.  Max is produced by
Opcode, [email protected]

File: powerglove-faq, Node: PC Software, Next: Unix, Prev: Mac Software, Up: Software

PC Software

O2GLOVE is a set of sources from VRASP ([CROSS REFERENCE]) to help you
write your own PowerGlove applications for the PC.

REND386 is a PC-based rendering library that supports the PG. Demo
available by FTP from
Source/developer's kit in /pub/rend386/

O2GLOVE is well suited for serious glove use and programming.  If you
are more interested in producing VR environments and less interested in
programming, REND386 is probably the way to go.

* Menu:

* REND386::                     
* O2GLOVE::                     

File: powerglove-faq, Node: REND386, Next: O2GLOVE, Prev: PC Software, Up: PC Software


From the rend386 distribution:

     REND386 -- A 3-D Polygon Rendering Package for the 386 and 486
                Written by Dave Stampe and Bernie Roehl

                          DEMO4 Documentation
                       Version 4.10 - August 1992

This document describes how to use the new REND386 demo, called

To run the demo, just type "demo4" or "demo4 filename" where 'filename'
is the name of a .plg file, a .fig file, or a .wld file you want to have

The demo4.exe program is designed to illustrate some of the capabilities
of REND386, a polygon rendering library for 386 and 486 systems with VGA

The libraries are available for free; the only reason for making the
demo a separate set of files is to give people who aren't interested in
writing software a chance to see just what can be done on
widely-available hardware.

The system is fast.  How fast, you ask?  Well, speed is not a
straightforward thing to measure.  There is a relationship between the
speed of the processor, the complexity of the scene, and the number of
frames per second.

With this software, a 512-polygon scene can be rendered at speeds up to
15 frames/second on a 486/25; this corresponds to a speed of over 7000
polys/second.  If you have a 486/33, it'll go slightly faster; if you
have a 386/33, it'll go slightly slower.  You get the idea.  If you want
more frames/second, use a simpler scene (i.e. fewer polygons).

To use this demo, you MUST have a 386 or 486; it will not run at all on
a 286 or below.  You must also have a standard VGA display.

This version now support stereoscopic viewing; the assumption is that
you have the Sega 3D glasses and the interface described in sega.txt

File: powerglove-faq, Node: O2GLOVE, Prev: REND386, Up: PC Software


From the O2GLOVE distribution:

Object Glove is an object oriented driver for Mattel's Nintendo Power
Glove connected to the parallel port of a PC.  It is written in C++ for
Borland C++ 3.1.  The code has many features that make it accessible,
extensible, and easy to incorporate into existing applications.  First,
it runs on a wide variety of PCs, from '286s to '486s, without
modification.  Second, it is interrupt driven, which means the sampling
takes place at regular intervals without requiring any attention from
the application program.  Thirdly, the programming interface is
extremely simple.  Since the program is object oriented, any future
improvements to the driver would be transparent to the applications that
use it.  More advanced processing of the glove input can be handled by
deriving classes from the main driver class.  Lastly, the code is
Windows compatible.

Object Glove supports the simultaneous use of two gloves.  (Support for
more gloves is possible but not planned.)  Object Glove is the only
publicly available product with this capability.

There are several programs that make use of Object Glove.  Included is a
demo program that displays a line drawing of a hand.  The hand moves
around on the screen based on the movements of the Power Glove.  There
are two versions of the demo program, one for DOS and one for Windows.
In the DOS version, user definable gestures are displayed on the screen
when they are recognized.  In the Windows version, gesture recognition
can be associated with system sounds.  These sounds are played through
the Windows 3.1 Multimedia Interface, thus the sounds are also
user-definable.  Also, a version of Rend386 has been included that
utilizes Object Glove.  Rend386 is a freeware "virtual reality" program
that allows navigation though a three dimensional world.  Rend386 is
customizable and allows the creation of new virtual worlds.  Rend386 was
written by Dave Stampe and Bernie Roehl.

Court Jesture, supplied with Object Glove, is a gesture recognition
 It operates in real time, allows definition of gestures by the end
user, and dispenses the gestures selectively to application objects in
an object-oriented way.  Gestures can be grouped into "sets" and gesture
sets can be activated and deactivated dynamically by the application.
When two gloves are used, each glove can have separate gesture sets or
the same gesture sets.  As with Object Glove, it works under DOS and
Windows and has been combined with Rend386.

Summary of features:
   * Object Oriented C++
   * Access one or two Power Gloves on one PC parallel port
   * Works under DOS and Windows, and with Rend386
   * Features gesture recognition
   * Comes with several sample applications
   * Available as a library or as source code
   * Includes over 60 pages of printed documentation
   * Low cost with no runtime fee, multi-user packs available

This product is available through VRASP, the Virtual Reality Alliance of
Students and Professionals.  VRASP also has Power Gloves, PC-to-Power
Glove connectors, and other low-cost Virtual Reality items for sale.
VRASP is a non-profit, educational organization devised to increase
public knowledge of virtual reality and further the development of VR
technology.  Membership in VRASP includes six issues of our popular
newsletter Pix-Elation, containing a wealth of "inside" VR information
and insightful articles.

A comprehensive demo program is available on the Internet.  The demo
includes DOS and Windows executables, and a version of Rend386 that
supports two gloves and gesture recognition.  You can use glove gestures
to fly around in worlds.  The demo also includes a Windows program to
move the "mouse" cursor with a glove.  Instructions for building a one
or two glove connector are included.  Some sample source code is
included, but in order to fully compile the demo programs you need to
buy the library.  To get the demo program, anonymous FTP as follows:
Host name: Directory: /pub/glove File name:
objglv.exe The file is a self-extracting archive.  It is advisable to
transfer this file in the evening when net traffic is low.  Make sure to
use BINARY mode!

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Unix, Prev: PC Software, Up: Software


With the general availability of the PGSI, we'll probably see more codes
for the PowerGlove on UNIX platforms.  There exist a couple of packages
for older NeXT computers and SGI's, but they require more hardware than
just a serial port.

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Basic Setup Instructions, Next: Related homebrew stuff, Prev: Software, Up: Top

Getting Started

With any platform, your basic steps are going to be:
  1. Figure out what platform you're going to use.
  2. Decide which interface for the glove you're going to use and what
     software.  Your choices might be limited due to the platform you're
     using, your programming skills, and available hardware.
  3. Plug everything together.

This section is intended for rough instructions for various platforms.
It's going to be empty the longest, simply because I don't have access
to lots of different hardware.  If you'd like to submit some
guidelines/instructions for a specific platform, feel free.

* Menu:

* Amiga Setup::                 
* Mac Setup::                   
* PC Setup::                    
* Unix Box Setup::              

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Amiga Setup, Next: Mac Setup, Prev: Basic Setup Instructions, Up: Basic Setup Instructions

Amiga Setup

   * hires via parallel
        * hack a cable
        * use glovetest/amigahires
        * timing problems on A3000 series, and probably the A1200/4000
          series make it easier to use a PGSI or a menelli box.
   * hires via serial/PGSI|Menelli box
   * lores via joystick port.  can use any nintendo controller as well,
     since lores just mimics the controller.

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Mac Setup, Next: PC Setup, Prev: Amiga Setup, Up: Basic Setup Instructions

Mac Setup

   * Gold Brick
   * PGSI

File: powerglove-faq, Node: PC Setup, Next: Unix Box Setup, Prev: Mac Setup, Up: Basic Setup Instructions

PC Setup

whole list of possibilities:
   * PCVR instructions
   * BYTE article
   * hires via roll-your-own parallel
   * hires via serial box
   * lores via joyport.

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Unix Box Setup, Prev: PC Setup, Up: Basic Setup Instructions

Unix Box Setup

   * PGSI|Menelli on serial.
   * write your own UNIX device driver.

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Related homebrew stuff, Next: Supplies/Mail Order, Prev: Basic Setup Instructions, Up: Top

Related homebrew stuff

* Menu:

* PowerGlove NES games::        
* Sega glasses::                
* Toshiba goggles::             
* UForce controller::           

File: powerglove-faq, Node: PowerGlove NES games, Next: Sega glasses, Prev: Related homebrew stuff, Up: Related homebrew stuff

PowerGlove NES games

The following games were produced for use with the PowerGlove on the
NES: Bad Street Brawler, Glove Pilot, SuperGloveBall, Manipulator, Maze
Ball.  SuperGloveBall is supposedly the game to have for the 8bit NES.

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Sega glasses, Next: Toshiba goggles, Prev: PowerGlove NES games, Up: Related homebrew stuff

Sega glasses

Sega had a game that competed with the NES called "Sega Master system".
One of the neat doodads Sega made was a set of LCD shutter glasses,
similar to Haitex goggles (and the shutter glasses many SGI
visualization tools support).  They are discontinued, and don't seem to
be in most stores.  SEGA used to sell refurbished units, but they're out
as well.

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Toshiba goggles, Next: UForce controller, Prev: Sega glasses, Up: Related homebrew stuff

Toshiba goggles

supposedly better than sega.  [FIND OUT FROM alt.3d?]

File: powerglove-faq, Node: UForce controller, Prev: Toshiba goggles, Up: Related homebrew stuff

UForce controller

Broderbund makes/sells a NES-controller compatible 3space sensor.  Two
plates at right angles contain a set of infrared emitters and detectors.
It has an NES-controller-mode and (yet another) "analog" mode.  No one
has decoded the analog information and made it available to the net.
The UForce is currently available.

This is Ethan Dicks' UForce FAQ:

Ethan Dicks <[email protected]> Version 1.0 24-Mar-1992

"Uforce 101..."

The Uforce has 9 total IR emitters and detectors of which 8 may be
active at any given time.  The four configuration switches are divided
into two functional groups.  The first three select a sample mode which
determines how the Uforce will present the data to the host and the last
switch selects which of two particular sensors is active.  Seven of the
eight possible arrangements of the first three config switches places
the Uforce into "Threshold mode" wherin the device compares the values
of the various sensors against known thresholds in ROM and provides the
host with a standard NES 8 bit packet containing
up/down/left/right/select/start/A/B information.  When all three
switches are down, the Uforce is placed into "Analog mode" wherin a
multi-byte packet with raw information about each IR sensor is provided
to the host.  The format is as follows... (all values in hex)

      Flag      S 7     S 6     S 5     S 4     S 3     S 2      S 1     S 0
     FC-FF*    01-FB    01-FB    01-FB    01-FB    01-FB    01-FB    01-FB    01-FB

     FF = no buttons pressed
     FE = START pressed
     FD = SELECT pressed
     FC = START & SELECT pressed

The flag byte is easy to spot because it is always over FC.  If 00 is
ever read, it should be discarded because the Uforce is still aquiring
data (this can take up to 10 milliseconds to complete); 00 is never
valid data.  There must be a 150 microsecond delay between bytes; this
is an NES restriction.  Any routine which is able to read in a single
byte from a standard NES controller can be used to read the Uforce in
Analog mode; unlike the PowerGlove in hires mode, the Uforce uses fairly
standard techniques for sending data back to the host.

The sensor map is arranged as follows...

         +------ 0 ------+
         |   2       1   |
         |               |
         |   3       5   |
         |   4           |
         |               |
         |   7       6   |
         +------ 5 ------+

     Sensor 5 is controlled by the right most config switch (#4)

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Supplies/Mail Order, Next: Wierd Info - Triva - References, Prev: Related homebrew stuff, Up: Top

Supplies/Mail Order

Hacking PowerGloves requires access to information and supplies that
aren't found in obvious locations.

* Menu:

* Scrounging::                  
* Mail Order::                  
* Stores::                      

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Scrounging, Next: Mail Order, Prev: Supplies/Mail Order, Up: Supplies/Mail Order


Scrounging is probably your best bet for things like PowerGloves,
UForces controllers, and other goodies.  The San Francisco bay area and
greater Houston areas each sport one or more computer junk stores.  In
San Jose, try "Wierd Stuff Warehouse" and "HalTed Electronics".  In
Houston, try "EDS", on the west side.

Generic resale/thirft shops such as Salvation Army aren't always worth
the trouble, as they tend to toss things out that they can't obviously
test or that have no obvious function.  They're also wise to
corporations trying to 'donate' broken junk.  Good place to get clothes
to be cut up and modified for input gear.

Garage sales are another big win.  I was having horrible luck finding
anything other than broken lawn furniture until a neighbor explained the
'right way' to garage sale: check ads in the paper the day before, start
early enough that you hit several sales as they start and remember that
you can probably talk down people on their prices.  Most importantly,
don't let on that the PowerGlove they're asking $10 for usually goes for
more than $30.

If nothing else, it won't hurt to post to sci.v-r, the glove-list or
related groups your "want list".

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Mail Order, Next: Stores, Prev: Scrounging, Up: Supplies/Mail Order

Mail Order

DigiKey (XXX-XXX-XXXX) is a popular mail-order house with many homebrew
folks.  They stock a large selection of components and whatnot. [ANYONE

FringeWare does mailorder of lots of stuff.  [INSERT REFERENCE. -ERIC]

Nintendo extension cables are available from MCM Electronics; 650
Congress Park Drive; Dayton, Ohio; 45459-9955; 800.543.4330.  The cable
is called a "Nintendo Type Joystick Extension Cable", part# 83-0325.

If you're short an L-bar, you can order one from Mattel: Mattel Toys;
7676 Reinhold Road; Cincinatti, OH; 45237.

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Stores, Prev: Mail Order, Up: Supplies/Mail Order


Fry's is a large chain of stores that try to be to electronics what
supermarkets are to food.  Fry's in the SF Bay area usually carry: Macs,
PCs, EO's, Newtons, Zoomers, home entertainment, electronic components,
tools, software, magazines, personal hygene supplies and junk food.
(Great prices on soda by the case.)

Radio Shack is still in business, regardless of their best attempts to
do otherwise.  Their prices are outrageous compared to larger PC chains
like Fry's, even for things like a handful of resistors.  They'll do
anything to get your name and address so they can kill trees to send you
ads for stuff you don't want. Don't bother with Radio Shack unless you
have no other choice.

Feel free to submit information on your local electronics supplier.

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Wierd Info - Triva - References, Next: Legal Issues, Prev: Supplies/Mail Order, Up: Top

Wierd Info, Triva, References

Time to get obscure.  Thanks to all who provided information and ideas.

The PG was designed by Chris Gentile (the "G" of AGE) and someone named
"Novak" at Mattel.  If you meet either of them, do whatever it takes to
ply their brains for all the information you can get.

The finger sensors are made by Amtec International 3653 West 1987 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84104 USA Tel. (801) 977-0359

PowerGloves are becoming hard to find.  You might want to try looking at
Toys R' Us immediately, but you're probably too late.  After that, hit
any chain that ever sold Nintendo gear (*Note Supplies/Mail Order::).

The coolest thing thus far is the original, official, PowerGlove
carrying case.  Found for around $12 (half what a glove usually costs)
at a Toys R' Us in Los Angeles area.

* Menu:

* References::                  

File: powerglove-faq, Node: References, Prev: Wierd Info - Triva - References, Up: Wierd Info - Triva - References


A variety of references on PowerGloves and homebrew VR.  If you have
more to add, or corrections, please submit. (Also, if you know a good
way to use BiBTeX with texinfo, let me know that as well.)

A whole slew of homebrew-style VR books have hit the shelves from
mass-market publixhers (like Sams).  I hope to have some references for
these in the next version of the FAQ.

     - Gardner, Dana L.  "The Power Glove", Design News. 4-Dec-89 pp63-68
       (history of design and marketing of the PG, not very technical.)

     - Jacobson, Linda. _CyberArts_ [COMPLETE CITATION]

     - Jacobson, Linda. (new book on garage VR)

     - Pausch, R.  "Virtual Reality on Five Dollars a Day". 
       Proceedings of ACM SIGCHI Human Factors in Computer Systems
       Conference, New Orleans April 1991. Text file might be available for
       FTP from HITL:, in /public/virtual-worlds/papers

     - "VPL Virtually Gone. (VPL Research loses control of its patents to
       Thomson CSF)", MacUser.  March, 1993, v9(n3). p45(1).

     - Zimmerman, Thomas G. et al.  "A Hand Gesture Interface Device".
       Proceedings of CHI+GI '87, ACM 1987. pp190-192.
       (really about the prototype of the DataGlove, but also discusses
       a cheaper "Z-Glove" [Zimmerman Glove?] that used ultrasonics for
       tracking and was used with a CBM64 computer.  Probably the "original" PG.)

     - Zimmerman, Thomas G and Lanier, Jaron Z.  "Computer Data Entry and
       Manipulation Apparatus and Method", VPL Research Inc.
       US Patent 4,988,981.  Redwood City, CA (USA). Jan 29 1991.
     - Zimmerman, Thomas G.  "Optical Flex Sensor", Sept 17 1985
       US Patent 4,542,291

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Legal Issues, Next: Other Gloves, Prev: Wierd Info - Triva - References, Up: Top

Legal Issues


That being said, there's not much you have to worry about while hacking
the PowerGlove.  As long as you use other people's software with respect
to their copyright and licensing agreement and give people credit where
it's due, you should be in the clear legally.

If you decide, however, to build stuff from scratch, you should be aware
of existing patents on hardware/software.

* Menu:

* Patents::                     
* League for Programming Freedom::  

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Patents, Next: League for Programming Freedom, Prev: Legal Issues, Up: Legal Issues


It is the personal opinion of the author that vaguely stated patents
covering broad areas hinder the virutal reality industry more than help
it.  That being said, the following are some important patents you
should take a look at.

In particular, VPL (or whomever owns them this week) owns a patent
covering the 'manipulation of virtual objects in a computer system' (see

VPL sued Jim Kramer of Virtual Technologies over a glove input device
that competed with the DataGlove.  VPL lost the suit and Virtual
Technologies continues to produce their gloves.  (The author does not
know why the suit was lost, if VPL retracted, or the current status of
the patent.)

Selected patents:

   * US Patent 3,022,878 'Communication device'

     Patented Feb. 27, 1962 Robert Seibel, Putnam Valley, Nathaniel
     Rochester IBM

     A further object of this invention is to provide a keyboard into
     which the hand is inserted, much as the hand is inserted into a
     glove.  Such a keyboard is adaptable to being fitted into a glove.

   * US Patent 4,414,537 'Digital data entry glove interface device'

     Patented Nov. 8, 1983 Gary J.Grimes, Bell Telephone Lab. Inc

     A man-machine interface is disclosed for translating discrete hand
     positions into electrical signals representing alpha-numeric

   * US Patent 4,542,291 'Optical flex sensor'

     Patented Sep. 17, 1985 Thomas G. Zimmerman.  VPL Research Inc.

     The instant invention relate generally to position detectors and
     more specifically it relates to an optical flex sensor that
     produces an output signal in response to bending

     A further object is to provide an optical flex sensor that uses
     inexpensive common materials and is assembled either by hand or
     with simple tools.

   * US Patent 4,988,981 'Computer data entry and manipulation apparatus
     and methods'

     Patented Jan. 29, 1991 Thomas G.Zimmerman, Jaron Z.Lanier VPL
     Research Inc.

     Apparatus is disclosed for generating control signals for the
     manipulation of virtual objects in a computer system according to
     the gesture and position of an operator's hand or other body part.
     The apparatus includes a glove worn on the hand which includes
     sensors for detecting the gestures of the hand, as well as hand
     position sensing means coupled to the glove and to the computer
     system for detecting the position of the hand with respect to the

File: powerglove-faq, Node: League for Programming Freedom, Prev: Patents, Up: Legal Issues

League for Programming Freedom

The League for Programming Freedom is dedicated to ending software
patents and user interface copyrights.  The following is from one of
their electronic fliers:

Ten years ago, programmers were allowed to write programs using all the
techniques they knew, and providing whatever features they felt were
useful.  This is no longer the case.  New monopolies, known as software
patents and interface copyrights, have taken away our freedom of
expression and our ability to do a good job.

"Look and feel" lawsuits attempt to monopolize well-known command
languages; some have succeeded.  Copyrights on command languages enforce
gratuitous incompatibility, close opportunities for competition, and
stifle incremental improvements.

Software patents are even more dangerous; they make every design
decision in the development of a program carry a risk of a lawsuit, with
draconian pretrial seizure.  It is difficult and expensive to find out
whether the techniques you consider using are patented; it is impossible
to find out whether they will be patented in the future.

The League for Programming Freedom is a grass-roots organization of
professors, students, businessmen, programmers and users dedicated to
bringing back the freedom to write programs.  The League is not opposed
to the legal system that Congress intended--copyright on individual
programs.  Our aim is to reverse the recent changes made by judges in
response to special interests, often explicitly rejecting the public
interest principles of the Constitution.

The League works to abolish the new monopolies by publishing articles,
talking with public officials, boycotting egregious offenders, and in
the future may intervene in court cases.  On May 24, 1989, the League
picketed Lotus headquarters on account of their lawsuits, and then again
on August 2, 1990.  These marches stimulated widespread media coverage
for the issue.  We welcome suggestions for other activities, as well as
help in carrying them out.

For more information, send email to [email protected] or physical
mail to:
         League for Programming Freedom
         1 Kendall Square #143
         P.O.Box 9171
         Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Other Gloves, Prev: Legal Issues, Up: Top

Other Gloves

Maybe you've got enough of a budget that you don't want to bother with
hacking PowerGloves.  The following are other glove options that I'm
aware of and information I've received from those companies as of this

* Menu:

* CyberGlove (TM)::             
* Exos::                        
* VPL DataGlove::               

File: powerglove-faq, Node: CyberGlove (TM), Next: Exos, Prev: Other Gloves, Up: Other Gloves

CyberGlove (TM)

The CyberGlove features include:
   * Up to 22 sensors, three flex sensors and abduction per finger, plus
     thumb cross-over, palm arch, wrist flexion and abduction
   * Sensor output depends only on true angle of finger joints and is
     independent of joint radius or curvature.
   * Sample at 100Hz or poll for input.
   * Glove material is nylon/lycra blend, fingers and palm are removed
     for typing ease.

Virtual Technologies 2175 Park Blvd Palo Alto, CA 94306 USA 415.321.4900

File: powerglove-faq, Node: Exos, Next: VPL DataGlove, Prev: CyberGlove (TM), Up: Other Gloves


Exos produces an exo-skeleton glove.  [ANYONE HAVE CONTACT INFO?  -ERIC]

File: powerglove-faq, Node: VPL DataGlove, Prev: Exos, Up: Other Gloves

VPL DataGlove

Yeah, like you can afford one.

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